September 14, 2010 - Wow, it has been a while since I updated this. The work has continued since my last update. First new oil seal, brake cylinder and brake lines were installed on the driver side rear axle. The drive side rear suspension has been completely removed, cleaned and repainted except for the bogey wheel hubs. The new tracks were also installed along with two like new bogey wheels. Those two bogey wheels peeled off after a couple of miles of use. That spurred me to find and alternative which lead me to get all of my bogey wheels retread with urethane instead of rubber. The first batch is done and ready to be installed once the hubs are cleaned, checked out and painted. Since the last update I installed a set of mine racks. My goal is to also clean up and repaint the passenger also and probably repaint the whole halftrack. I like the faded look it has right now, but there are a couple of different paint colors on in and I want to make it uniform.
September 27, 2009 - Today we completely replaced one of the bogie wheel sets and reinstalled the other three sets. I was going to replace one of the worst bogie wheels, but when I tried to the remove some nuts on the bogie wheel I ended up breaking two of the studs off the hub. We also installed the Bogie arms, so now the bogie assembly is reinstalled. We still need to install the brake cylinder, drum, axle seal and rear axel before we install the new track. Hopefully next weekend.
August 27, 2009 - (See the Track Replacement gallery) Today we didn't get much done on the tracks. I had to order new rear brake cylinders because the ones I thought were correct, were to small. I did power wash the bogie wheels, arm pieces, sprockets, hub and track armor. We did remove the angle iron connecting the side armor to the track armor. While on the outside the original armor bolts looked good, the only thing holding in place was the rust which fused them to the angle iron. The only good bolts were post war hex bolts. Ken ended up cutting them all off with a torch.
August 20, 2009 - (See the Track Replacement gallery) We finally started working on the tracks. We started off on the driver's side. We had sprayed all of the nuts with Kroil the week before hand. The first thing we did was loosen the the rear idler nut. This was a real pain, the nut is a 2 1/8 inch fine thread nut and it was like doing push ups while on your back. My arm hurt for a couple of days afterward. Once the nut was loosened we attached a chain and chain tightener to the drive and rear idler sprockets. We pulled the rear idler forward and put slack in the track. At this point we removed the outer half of the rear idler. The next step was to jack up the halftrack, but you have to attach the clamps to the bogie arms. Then we pulled the track off, we needed to use pry bars to get the track over the top bogie wheels. At this point we had enough clearance to get the track off of the drive sprocket and the track was essentially free.
Taking off the bogie wheels and arms was a real learning experience. Most of the nuts we had to take a torch to free them up. The bar going through the bogies goes out towards the inside of the vehicle only. The pin on which the bogies pivots on the bogie arms is tapered and can only be removed once the arm has been removed. To remove the bogie arm you have to remove the top bogie wheels and install the volute spring rods and compress the springs. This removes the pressure on the bogie arms. It still took some effort to get the bogie arms off, but we eventually got them off.
We also removed the drive sprocket and drum. This wasn't really difficult, but we had to improvise because I didn't have the correct axel socket. Once we got the drum off we could tell how much oil had leaked out because the outside and inside was black with oil.
June 27, 2009 - Last weekend was Washington, MO VFW Homecoming and as usual when I think all is well something goes wrong. Back in May was Operation Eminent Storm at Smak Zone Paintball and we ran it all weekend without a problem. I ran through a full tank of gas, about 30 gallons, and it ran great. After a few headaches with getting it back we started getting it ready for the Homecoming. I was having trouble keeping it running, but I figured that was because of the lack of fuel. I put 10 gallons in, but it was still doing it. We disconnected the fuel line and there was a bunch of brown crap in in the gas. We figure that since the tank was empty condensation formed inside and caused rust on the inside. We replaced the fuel pump which wasn't working either and tried it was gas from a gas can. It started right up with the clean gas. So now I have to work on the fuel tank and see what I can do to clean it out. I am done with taking the halftrack out for the summer and now we are going to start doing some serious work on it, including the tracks and breaks.
May 7, 2009 - Back on April 24 - 26 was WWII Weekend at Jefferson Barracks. Between my last post and then, we changed the oil, replaced the radiator hoses, had the carburetor rebuilt, and replaced the essential wiring to start the halftrack. I installed the wiring by myself by looking at the wiring diagram which came with the harness and the wiring diagram in the Tech Manual. I also had to go off what wiring I had left in place. It was a bit frustrating at times, but I was able get it going. Next was the carburetor which was rebuilt by Joe Drennon. After he worked on it, all we had to do was install it and it started up after only a little bit of tweaking. We also replaced all the old rubber radiator hoses with new ones. Along with rubber radiator hose there is also brass tubing, which needed to be cleaned up. One section was rather banged up at the end and needed to be hammered back into shape. When we went to install the new hose we discovered that there were two hose sizes. So we had to run and get some more. We also discovered that we had to removed the water pump to get all of the hoses back on, before we just cut them off. Other than that we didn't have any problems with the cooling system. The carburetor, radiator hoses and changing the oil was all done a week before WWII Weekend and since it was getting late and I had not installed the wiring for the lights we didn't take it for a spin. I didn't work on it until the 24th when I was getting it delivered to to Jefferson Barracks. That was a mistake, it could idle fine, but it had no power while I was driving. I tried to take it for a spin before the driver got there, but I got stuck at the bottom of a hill. I ended having the driver picking it up there where it stalled out. I decided if nothing else I would have it on display for the weekend. We had to unload the halftrack a bit further away from the campsite than I wanted. The drive to the campsite was an ordeal, the halftrack was barely sputtering along and I had to come back and finish the drive later. Based on the observations of others we figured that there was a problem with the fuel system. So I set out to replace the fuel line from the tank to first filter, the filter and fuel pump. Replacing the fuel line and filter was fun. The old line was so old that when I used vise grips to seal it, it crushed the line and gas was spraying out. The day before I had filled the tank, so there was about 25 gallons of gas trying to leak out. I had to work quickly and forced the new line on. This whole time gas was running down my arm. Eventually I am going to put a petcock on the hard line coming from the tank, once I empty the tank though. So now I have the new fuel line and filter on and before I replace the fuel pump I want to try it out. With the help of Mark, we check the gas pressure at the carburetor and figure out that the pressure is really low. So I turn up the regulator and check it again. The pressure looked good, so I tried it out and took it for a spin and it seems to be running pretty good. I had missed the first battle, but it was able to make it to the second battle and it ran fine. After the battle I was showing one of the visitors how the louvers work and pin connecting the louvers to the control lever broke. This made it so that the louvers would remain shut unless I put a block or something in them. That evening we took the halftrack for a spin around the park. This was about a 2.5 mile run and the halftrack was running great. That was the fastest I had the halftrack running, I think it was about 30 miles per hour. Unfortunately, my speedometer isn't working yet, so I am not sure how fast I was going. The next day the halftrack ran a bit hot, because of the louvers, but otherwise it ran good. When I got it back to Kenny's I noticed an oil leak from the rear axle seal. That wasn't anything new, but I had forgot about it. That is another item to add to the list for when we work on the tracks. After the running it over the weekend I did notice more rubber loose or missing on the tracks. So that is definitely a summer project. This weekend gave me inspiration for a name for the halftrack, "Temperamental Journey." I think that is a pretty good name.
March 30, 2009 - The race is on. Back in January I ordered a new wiring harness from Vintage Wiring of Maine and got it in today. I have until the end of April to get the halftrack running again for World War II Weekend. So hopefully putting in the new wiring harness isn't too difficult. I also need to replace the radiator hose connections and probably change the oil.
January 27, 2009 - Well my halftrack survived the two Veteran's Day Parades, just barely. It ran ok until the end of the second parade. On the way back from that parade it was all I could do to keep it going, I think it was getting to much gas. So now a rebuild of the carburetor is on the to do list. I also need to check out the fuel pump and regulator. The next priority is the wiring, but I can't tackle that, until the weather is warmer. I am debating on whether to remove the dash and work on it that way or just leave it in place. I know taking it out will make wiring it much easier, but I am afraid that taking the dash out will be a major pain. Replacing the tracks is still on the to do list, but at the same time we want to work on the breaks.
A couple of weeks ago I heard about a 1945 Willys MB for sale. During WWII my grandfather drove jeeps hauling ammo to the front lines and I have always wanted a jeep. I knew I had to many projects, but this project sounded to go, so I had to check it out. There is some rust in the tool boxes, minor in the floor board and some of the body supports underneath are rusted out. Just about everything else is there, it was in the middle of be restored, but the owner didn't have the time. The thing hasn't ran in several years, but it has been stored inside. I decided it was a good deal and brought it. I plan on doing a frame off restoration on this. The halftrack is still my priority, but I will work on this when the weather is bad or I need a break from the halftrack.
October 12, 2008 - It has been a while since I updated this and I have done a few things since then. First I replaced both the driver's and front passenger's seat. They include new padded seats and backs, very comfortable. We also installed speedometer and cable, but we have had no luck getting it to work yet. The gear going driving it in the transfer case must not be meshing right. I bought a rebuilt Tachometer and cable and installed both of them, that is working great. I got a new locking mechanism for the driver's side and both interior and exterior door handles for both doors. If just a little bit of hammer on the door frame both of the doors close and latch easily. It is very nice to be able to open and close the doors from the inside and out. Just recently I bought a used multi-gauge which is in pretty nice shape. We installed that and found a couple of problems. One problem was that we had to connect the fuel gauge so that power would get to the starter coil. We also found out that the wiring is near shot, there is a lot of old bare wires which caused a couple of sparks. So I am going to have to get a complete new wiring harness, but I knew that for a while now. I just didn't realize truly bad the wiring was, but what can you expect for 66 year old wires. The amp meter does work so that is a good thing. Another thing which I have purchased is a new data plate. While it serves no functional purpose it will add some more ascetics to the dash. Now for the other problem I found. After I parked the halftrack I noticed that the passenger's side track has a single strand of wire broken and poking through on the outside of the track in two spots right next to each other. Again that was another thing which I was already planning on replacing, but I am hoping it would last until after Veteran's Day. We shall see how they hold up.
May 26, 2008 - Last weekend was Operation Eminent Storm at Smak Zone and I used the halftrack there. I gave it a good work out and it came through it alright. The driver's side door lock fell apart on me. The old spot welds holding it together broke off, I still have all the pieces, so it is just a matter of welding it back together. I do have NOS one which I can replace it with which was for the other halftrack. I also broke the driver's seat, the pop rivets holding the left side one all broke. Again I have a French NOS one I can replace it with or repair the existing one. The fuel pump wasn't working so I went through and replaced the ignition switch and the one for the fuel pump, that seems to have fixed the problem. It is good to have a proper ignition switch instead of the old key switch.
March 9, 2008 - Since my last update there has been a lot going on. First off , the new tires were replaced and new ones were installed. The old solid tires, off the rims, are so heavy that I can barely pick one up off the ground. They weigh more than the new tires and combat rims. After this we started working on the exhaust system. Back in October I got a take off exhaust/intake manifold from another local owner. Just after we started removing the old exhaust I received an email from Steve Smith asking if I wanted to bring my halftrack to a movie shoot for Rhineland. This gave us just over a month to install the new exhaust system. The exhaust was broken at every bolt and it looked like the studs, nuts and exhaust manifold were so rusted that they were fused together. After a lot of PB Blaster, Kenny's blood and suffering through miserable weather, we removed exhaust manifold. The new manifold was cleaned up and painted and then we installed it. Next was the installation of the exhaust pipe and muffler. Even though it was a NOS exhaust pipe and muffler we still had to bend the pipe to get it to fit. We also got metal to make a new M25 pedestal mount and had the pieces water jet cut out. Before the movie shoot we were able to tack the pedestal together enough to hold it together and temporary bolted into the location of the old pedestal. We got all of that done in time for the movie shoot on March 1st.
January 5th, 2008 - Kenny and I were going to put those new tires on today, but we got a bit of a surprise. It turns out that the tires are solid rubber. With the tire laying on the ground we could stand it up by ourselves, but I could barely pick it up off the ground by myself. We put it back on and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do. I will have to get new tubes to put those tires on and if I am going to get them, I better do it soon while I am still working near Tire Mart. While the wheel was off, we got a look at the breaks and the pads looked pretty good. So this spurred us to try working on the breaks and get them working better. There was hardly any fluid in the master cylinder, so we filled it, bled the front breaks and filled the master cylinder again. So we tested the breaks out and with the front breaks alone it was just not enough. The rear break line had been crimped off and cut at one time. We are going to run all new break lines to the rear and try it again. If that still not enough breaking power we will look at the hydrovac. Kenny also looked at the door handles and he thinks that he can fabricate some new ones.
December 26th, 2007 - Today I bought a Christmas gift for the halftrack. I went out and bought two new front tires. Luckily there is a place in St. Louis which sells the tires, in fact the place is only a 2 miles from my work office. The place I bought them from is Tire Mart, but I bought the last two NDT 8.25 x 20 tires that they had. After getting the tires I took them over to Kenny's, but he was out of town, so I still need to put the new tires on.
December 19th, 2007 - We finally got the oil pan back on today. I bought all new bolts and lock washers. Some of the old ones didn't look to good and I was afraid that we might over torque and break them. After that I refilled the oil and we worked on getting it started. After a little bit of effort, we got it going again. While letting it run I noticed that it was smoking some from the engine and noticed that the lid for the oil filter wasn't completely sealed. This was causing some of the oil to splash out. While Kenny was looking at the oil filter he noticed that fuel line was leaking at the carburetor and that the seals on the carburetor itself also leak. So that is now on the do list also. That is another thing Kenny and I did today, made a to do list to be done by World War II Weekend at the end of April. The main items are replacing the exhaust manifold and exhaust system, work on the front breaks, and replace the tires.
November 18th, 2007 - Today Kenny and I repaired the oil pan. Kenny was just going to tack weld the holes we found, but he kept burning through and so we decided it would be better to weld on some new sheet metal. He ended up welding on new sheet metal to the front edge of the bottom of the oil pan. After that was done and the metal cooled, we cleaned up any rust and used metal filler to fill in any rust pits. I had to leave the priming and installation to Kenny because it was getting dark outside. One thing that I noticed while we were working on the oil pan was that it was a light gray color with maybe a slight hint of green, but sometime when the halftrack was painted the skid plate was painted and oil pan was also painted olive drab.
November 4th, 2007 - I installed the new piece for the transfer case and refilled the the oil. I also replaced the engine oil filter. When we first replace the oil, I had gotten the wrong style, older style, but it fit and left it. Now I got the correct one and put it in. The oil pan still needs to be welded up, so I didn't put that back on. Some of the angle iron for the rear armor needs to be replaced so I got measurements on that. On Ebay I bought a fuel tank back rest, which I plan on using as a pattern so I can get extras made. Now that there isn't any events that I know of until April, I am thinking about what major items I want to work on, such as the exhaust system, brakes, remove the armor plates cleaning or replacing the angle iron or installing new tires and tracks. I don't want to get to involved and not get an item done and be delayed at getting it running again for an event.
October 14th, 2007 - Today we removed the skid plate and oil plan. We found the leak, someone had previously repaired it with solider and that faked off. So Kenny is going to cut some sheet metal and weld up to the pan. I also removed the removed the plate on the transfer case where the speedometer cable connects. On the outside the crack looks like it was halfway around the raised cylinder, but on the inside it was three quarters of the way around.
September 12th, 2007 - Last weekend I took the halftrack to Smak Zone Paintball for Fire Fall Objective Scenario Paintball game. I ran it during the game and a couple of oil leaks manifested themselves. One was from the rear cover for the front drive shaft which has about a 2-inch hairline fracture. Also the engine oil pan leaks, but I have not seen the hole yet. We think that some rock might have gotten in between the oil pan and skid plate and rubbed on through. It is not a difficult fix and that will also allow me to clean out the oil pan and get a look at the condition of the underside of the engine. Other things I noticed was the steering seemed stiff at times, shifting was difficult while on the move, and the driver and passenger area would get rather warm if we weren't moving. Other than that, it seemed to run well and had little difficulty driving across the terrain.
September 3rd, 2007 - Yesterday some friends came and helped work on the track. We flushed the radiator, which we might not have needed to do because the antifreeze that came out looked pretty good. Oh well, at least we know now and it doesn't hurt anything to change it. We also changed the engine and transmission oil and those needed to be changed. The engine oil had a bit of sludge in it, we will run it the next two weekends and change it again. Hopefully, that will loosen the sludge up and free it up more. Now the transmission oil was really bad. We thought there was a bit of sludge in the engine oil, it looked like someone had put grease in the transmission instead of oil. We drained out what we could, refilled it, drove the track around and drained it again. That helped, but I will have to do that a few more times to get it all out. Some temporary oil pressure and water temperature gauges were installed and work well. It appears that that everything is within the ranges it should be. It was a good day. Today I am going to patch a small crack at the fill cap.
August 26th, 2007 - Work begins. We changed out the spark plugs and fan belts. The fan belts were a nightmare, for some reason the generator wasn't moving in all the way it should have, it should have been able to move another inch. But we got them into place, finally. I also got some carburetor cleaner used that. After all of that, it was running great. I was afraid that the carburetor would have needed to be rebuilt, but I think it was just the spark plugs. Kenny and I took it out for a little spin, that was fun and it was cool to hear the tracks running. There is still a problem with the cooling, I have to take off the radiator fan cowl and replace it. Luckily the first track I bought has some really good parts on it, so I take off them off of there. I will replace them later when I go back to work on it. While crawling over the track I discovered that I will need to replace the front shock linkage arms, one is rusted and the other is bent. I also need to replace the floor boards in the cab, which are rusted and worn out in places, mostly around the edges.
August 18th, 2007 - Today was delivery day for the new halftrack. There were a couple of hiccups, it took 45 minutes to an hour to get the track started. Water might have gotten it and was giving us problems, which was strange because a couple of weeks before I showed the track to my Dad and it started right up. It took us over two hours to get everything loaded and delivered.
July 18th, 2007 - Jon had yet another halftrack he was trying to sell, but his previous deal fell through and it was up for sale again. This was a much more complete than his other halftrack and I made a deal to trade the other one back and I would make up the difference. After looking at I decided it was a good deal and I decided to buy the halftrack. Jon was ok with the deal because he knew the first one he sold me was in good shape and knew it was a good project.
June 23rd, 2007 - Shortly after I bought my halftrack back in January I found that there was another one for sale locally. After talking with the owner, Jon Shoop, and seeing pictures of it I decided to buy it. As it turns out, it has most everything that I had bought for the first one, but already installed. All around it is in better condition, for the most part, than the first one. I wish I had heard about it first, but oh well. I am still going to work on both of them, but I am focusing on this new one first. Originally this was an M3A1 which was convert to an M16 and then sold to Southern Parts. They made it into a lime spreader and a farmer bought it back in the 1970s, he owned and used it until he died and then Jon bought it. If he would not have bought it, most likely it would have ended up as scrap.
June 8th, 2007 - I finally got the halftrack delivered. That ordeal is over, originally it was supposed to arrive around 9pm on Thursday, which was great, because we would not miss any work. Unfortunately the driver could not get there until Friday morning. He told me it would be a little after 9 am and he finally arrived at 10am. That is when the fun really began, he just had a flatbed truck, not a rollback truck. So to get the halftrack off truck we had him back the truck up to the hillside and Kenny pulled it off with the bobcat. After bracing the halftrack Kenny came around and lowered it his driveway. It took us about an hour and a half to completely get it unloaded and parked. At this point my day was shot at work, so I spent time with my halftrack. While looking it over I found out that the radiator had been shot at some point in time. I cannot say that it was from combat or just someone taking a potshot at it. Most likely I will never know the truth, but it was definitely done before the mesh radiator cover was added.
April 12th, 2007 - Well so far I have had no luck getting my halftrack. The guy who was going to drive it back for me, his truck's transmission has gone out, so he is out. I guess I am going to just have to bite the bullet and pay someone to do it. Last Saturday Mark and I went and got my 1968 Kaiser - Jeep M35A2 "deuce." I bought from a guy in Illinois off of Ebay, I probably would not have bought it, but it had a good title and was fairly close. It turns out that might be the best of the three deuces that we have gotten . I am going use to tow my halftrack with once it is done. I think I am going to paint it in Vietnam Marine color, in honor of my uncle. This is probably even more folly, but I am going to buy a second halftrack. This one is in much better shape than the first one and it should be delivered next week. I really wish I would have known about this one before I bought the first one. My plan is to restore them both and sell one. I am not sure how much effort I am going to put into the one I am going to sell as of yet. I will definitely get it up, running and driving, before I sell it.
February 3rd, 2007 - As of right now we are planning on getting the halftrack on the 17th or 18th. The cold weather and towing arrangements are holding us up. I added pictures from January 3rd when we went to Rolla, to look at a military surplus business.
January 20th, 2007 - I went, along with Kenny Murray, to visit Gary's Halftracks in Gardner, IL to see what he had. After much talking, seeing what he had and finding out what I wanted I finally decided one. Originally it was a M15A1 Anti-Aircraft halftrack with a 37mm cannon and two .50 caliber machine guns. I decided to rebuild it as either an M3 or M3A1 Armored Personnel Carrier halftrack configuration. On the way back home Kenny remembered that he knows a guy who collects military vehicles and even has a halftrack also. He called the guy up and after talking with him, Kenny found out that he did have a M2 halftrack and has been in contact with another guy in the area who also has a halftrack. So once mine gets to Kenny's house, where we are going to be doing the work, there will be three halftracks within a 15 mile stretch. It is pretty hard to believe that there are that many that close together. Maybe we can help each other out. We are still trying to work out how to get my halftrack here.